Reviewed by Helyce
Favorite Quote: Lawe stared into her eyes, saw the conviction there, saw the woman she knew herself to be as well as the woman he knew she could be. “You only see the warrior you are, Diane.” He sighed, feeling as weary as she had sounded moments ago. “You don’t see the rest of you, but I sense her. I hope you find her, before you destroy both of us.”
Diane Broen might be just a human, but she is a strong solder, a warrior. The daughter of two CIA agents who were secretly working on behalf of the Breeds she’s known tragedy and loss from a young age. When her parents were killed while on a mission, she and her sister Rachel went to live with their uncle Colt Broen, a mercenary. He raised Diane and her sister the best way he knew how. It’s no surprise that Diane chose to follow in Colt’s footsteps. Now working for the Breeds, Diane commands a small team and they are sent out on various missions. Her mission has become a personal one, though, and she will do anything she can to find whatever information she can to help her niece, Amber. When Amber was just an infant, she was kidnapped and infected with some sort of experimental serum that the Genetics Council scientists had developed. She’s beginning to display some rather odd symptoms and unless they can find some sort of information on what exactly she was given, she’ll surely die. Amber is not the first child to be given this type of serum, however, and if Diane can just track down the other two known girls, there is hope that they may have answers. Unfortunately, these girls have been in hiding for years-and Diane is not the only one out there trying to locate them.
Lawe Justice, a lion breed, grew up in the horrendous Genetics Council labs where he was forced to endure horrific experiments. Not only that, but he had to watch, without showing any emotion while the same experiments, or worse, were performed on his birth mother. For years, Lawe and his twin brother Rule were exposed to the horror of the labs until they made their escape. Now, they are top Enforcer’s for the Breeds providing protection to all Breeds, but especially the mated pairs-and occasionally being sent out on missions. It is on one such mission that Lawe meets and rescue’s Diane Broen. Diane was in Argentina checking out a lead in the hopes of finding answers that would help her niece when she is kidnapped. When Lawe finds her, filthy, broken, and barely alive he still knows immediately, that she is his mate.
Diane too senses their connection, but the last thing she needs is a breed male getting in her way and hindering her mission. She’s been around the breeds long enough to know what happens when a breed male finds his mate and she is not going to be hidden away and kept safe. She also knows Lawe well enough to know that his over protective instincts would never allow her to continue with her job which often puts her in danger. To the Breeds, mated pairs and whatever children they might have, are sacred, to be protected above all else. And Diane is having none of that. She will not let anything stop her from pursuing this goal and finding the answers that will help Amber.
Unfortunately, there is a rogue Breed out there trying to find the same two young women that Diane is after. Gideon is also a product of the Genetics Council labs and he has suffered more than anyone could imagine. He just happened to be at the same lab that the two women that Diane is looking for were held. During an escape attempt, Gideon was seriously injured and would have died if one of the girls had not provided him with blood. Too weak to travel, they leave him there and he is recaptured by the labs. Unfortunately for Gideon, his already altered DNA was further altered when her blood mixed with his and when the labs realized the anomaly, Gideon was forced to endure more testing until his subsequent escape. He had begged the girl not to transfuse him, but she knew he would die without it. Gideon would have rather died, in fact, he welcomes it. So now, he’s trying to find her in the hopes of figuring out exactly how her blood has affected him.
When Diane agrees to meet with the Breed’s Director, Jonas, to update him on her findings she learns that they are well aware of Gideon and have been attempting to track him as well. Diane is furious. She fears that they may scare him off and if Gideon is a link to the young women who might have the answers they need, she can’t risk it. But Gideon is believed to be suffering from feral fever, a condition that some breeds succumb to after a time, making them violent and unpredictable. It’s no secret that Gideon has been hunting on his own; tracking down some of the lab personnel and performing his own brand of ‘testing’ as he tries to get information out of them. Diane doesn’t think that Gideon is a danger to her. In fact, he’s actually been helpful-leaving her clues and alerting her to a traitor on her team.
When an attempt is made on her life, Lawe can’t stay in the background anymore. He goes to Diane fully intending to stake his claim and make her his mate in every way possible. Diane is powerless to stop it, overcome by the release of hormones into her system with that first kiss. But if Lawe thought mating Diane would allow him to place her in one of the Breed strongholds to keep her safe, he couldn’t have been more wrong. Diane has no intention of quitting and she fully intends to continue in her quest, breed mate or not, with or without Lawe’s help.
I am a huge fan of this series. The first book I read was Coyote’s Mate (#18, 2009) and while it read fine as a standalone, I was hooked enough to go backwards and start at the beginning with Ms. Leigh’s original releases through Ellora’s Cave. I’m sure my love of science fiction has a lot to do with why I find this series so appealing. I find the premise of the altered DNA fascinating in that the men and women have the characteristics of the animals they are crossed with, but they don’t shift or take on the body of the animal in any way. The fact that they are all incredibly sexy, with perfect bodies and features doesn’t hurt either. I’m very invested in the characters and have really enjoyed how Ms. Leigh has included previous couples here and there throughout her books.
In this installment, she continues the story arc that began in Lion’s Heat (April 2010), with Director Jonas Wyatt mating Rachel Broen, Diane’s sister. In Jonas’s book, Rachel’s daughter Amber is kidnapped by Genetics Council scientist Phillip Brandenmore who then injects her with some sort of serum. Brandenmore is apprehended by the Breeds and questioned, but does not give the Breed doctors any information to help explain the changes that baby Amber is exhibiting. When Brandenmore is killed, any answers he may have had die with him and other avenues have to be explored. Thus Diane and her team being tasked with trying to locate two women who were given a similar serum and survived.
There is a lot going on in this installment with the introduction of the character of Gideon, and the two young women who Diane is searching for. While it was a little refreshing that Lawe and Diane did not seem to be completely overtaken by the ‘mating heat’ that previous couples have usually succumbed to, I did miss the strong pull that mated pairs seem to have when first getting together. I have been a fan of Lawe’s character for a long time and as he’s always claimed in previous books that he was not looking for a mate as he watched his fellow Enforcers fall in love, I expected a little more fight from him. But no, he and Diane fall together quite easily and their only obstacle then becomes Lawe having to learn a way to compromise in their relationship because Diane will not give up doing what she loves. I felt there was more emphasis in moving the story arc forward in this installment and less on the romance and relationship of Lawe and Diane and that was disappointing for me. At the same time, Ms. Leigh leaves us with a rather tasty cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us.
Note: I read an ARC of Lawe’s Justice and I thought it important to note that it is full of spelling and grammatical errors. It’s no secret that many of Ms. Leigh’s recent books have been full of these types of errors in final form and I expect this book to be no different. Just a head’s up. While it bothers me that this well known and well-loved author has not seen fit to fix this problem with her editing process-I’m so invested in this series it was easy to overlook it.